GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a discretionary grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by New Jersey Higher Education. Its goal is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. In its efforts to prepare students for college, the program works with students, families, and teachers in 58 middle and high schools in eight urban New Jersey centers.

The seven higher education partner institutions encourage students to obtain college degrees by providing: after-school and Saturday tutoring, summer programs, mentoring, counseling, test preparation, information about financial aid, and college visits. The initiative also emphasizes the importance of taking rigorous high school courses to prepare for post-secondary education and includes scholarships for students who attend eligible New Jersey institutions.

GEAR UP students are also eligible for the state’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, which provides financial assistance and support services including a summer program before the freshman year in college. New Jersey’s financial aid agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, partners with NJ GEAR UP to provide information about how to pay for college in New Jersey. Parents of GEAR UP students benefit as well by receiving early information about post-secondary education options and availability of financial aid.

When students join GEAR UP, they begin taking steps to prepare themselves for success. A college education will be the key that will unlock the doors to career options, knowledge, and skills that will last a lifetime.


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